Nordic Winter Small Group Tours
And So It Began, an Arctic Adventure in Finland...
With temperatures dropping nicely below the freezing point and snow blurring the line where the sky and ground meet, the planes arriving from south landed on the snow-covered runway at Kittilä Airport in Lapland, northern Finland. The cold was to be expected, but what came as a surprise to many was how the cold wasn’t so bad after all. The typical dry, northern Finnish winter gave thus its first pleasant surprise although the sun had decided to hide away behind the thick cloud. Nordic Winter Journey with 50 Degrees North had just begun.
A Stone Throw’s Away from Sweden
The Nordic Winter Journey explores the magic of winter and arctic activities under the northern lights both in northern Finland and Norway. The family-run and award-winning traditional hotel Harriniva is the base for the first part of the journey, where the transfer from Kittilä Airport takes just over an hour. If you are lucky, like we were, at least one reindeer of the many inhabiting the fell areas of Lapland will make an appearance on the drive over to the destination.
Harriniva sits right at the border of Finland and Sweden with only the Muoniojoki river separating the two. The border can be crossed freely, and for those who were not ready for a rest after a long journey or jet lag, it was an easy walk along the snowmobile tracks on ice to the land bridge connecting the two countries. Later, a welcome cocktail made up of Finnish specialities cloudberry liqueur and Koskenkorva spirit kicked off the first dinner of many to come on this Nordic journey.
Cloudy Skies and Northern Lights
A text message with “Satellite data shows massive data! If there’re clear skies, aurora could burn your hairs in the next hour!” is all it takes to get several tired travellers out of their beds in the middle of the night to wrestle into the thermal layers, winter suits and head to the cold night to stare at the cloudy sky. No matter how much aurora activity there is, if the clouds are thick and heavy, the northern lights will only reveal themselves to those flying above the clouds. With bit of wind, we were lucky to witness the dance of the northern lights for a short while on the very first night of this adventure!
Reindeers and Local Culture
Lapland, reindeer and reindeer herders are intertwined tightly in the local Lappish culture and way of life. To learn more about these traditions we headed to the nearby Torassieppi reindeer farm which dates all the way back to 1847 on our first full day in Lapland. A safari through the silent forest pulled on sleighs by the reindeers started the day of history, traditions and bit of suopunki, the Finnish lasso throwing until a hot soup in the cozy wood-built kota, traditional type of a lavu or tipi and excursion in the local snow hotel. Later, those who were brave, relaxed first in the soft heat of the sauna at Harriniva before plunging into the snow, Finnish style. And these fearless ladies did it twice!
We are off to a good start in Lapland, adventure filled day is ahead of us tomorrow when we embark on a snowmobile safari through the Finnish wilderness.